Game changer, mover and shaker: these are just an inkling of adjectives that describe Laverne Cox.
The Orange Is the New Black actress is arguably one of the first transgender actresses to impact mainstream entertainment (if her historic Time magazine cover is anything to go by). Not one to bite her tongue, and rightfully so, regarding discrimination against trans actors in Hollywood, Cox offered her two cents as to why a transgender actor has never been nominated for an Oscar.
In a roundtable moderated by Ramin Setoodeh for Variety, Cox was just among a handful of actors invited to discuss the systemic imbalance and disproportionate amount of trans roles offered to cisgender actors. Case in point: the valid criticism and knee-jerk clapbacks doled out to Scarlett Johansson after she accepted the role of Dante “Tex” Gill in the autobiographical film Rub and Tug. In an era of shows like Pose, many were rightfully quick to point out the role should have been given to a transgender actor since parts are zero to none as is.
Cox pointed out how the misrepresentation of transgender people onscreen can translate to internalized shame and self-hatred requiring “so much work to unlearn that and build shame resilience.” She also mentioned that a trans actor has never been nominated for an Oscar. “As Viola Davis reminded us, you cannot be nominated for roles that don’t exist,” Cox said. “We must first be cast.” The sad irony, more cisgender actors have been nominated for playing transgender roles than trans actors themselves — Jared Leto, Felicity Huffman, Eddie Redmayne… the list goes on.
When asked why there hasn’t been a trans character in a comic book movie, Cox’s answer might spurn some curiosity. “I’m working on it,” she said. “We’re all ready to be the next superhero, so call our representatives.” In an era where actresses such as Mj Rodriguez, Mya Taylor and Cox have delivered grade-A performances, a superhero film led by trans actors would be a breath of fresh air.